Published on February 4th, 2010 | by prime1
Battlefield Bad Company 2 – Preview
In the next paragraph we’re going to ask you a very simple question. It’s a question that requires little-to-no thought process… we just want the first thing that pops into your head.
What’s your favorite online multiplayer shooter on Playstation 3? Modern Warfare 2? No surprises there, then. But DICE is looking to change that. The Swedish developer does have a reputation as the king of online warfare – modern or not – to snatch back from Infinity Ward after all, and prove that its 10-year-old shooter franchise still has it what it takes to cut it in the modern-day multiplayer arena.
It does, of course, as our recent hands-on with Bad Company 2 proved. But this is a Bad Company developed for a new decade. It’s fast, it’s intense, it’s exciting, but more importantly, we think that it’s incredibly intriguing.
As a studio for its ability to deliver an excellent multiplayer experience and not a whole lot else, it seems that DICE is looking to set an example with Bad Company 2 by positioning itself as not just a multiplayer extraordinaire, but a developer with the ability to create a compelling single-player campaign too – a task all the more unlikely given 2008’s divisive Mirror’s Edge. It’s quite the surprise then, when the realization hits home that DICE may well have achieved its goal.
Our tour of Bad Company 2’s campaign opens quite spectacularly atop a hill overlooking a tropical valley somewhere in South America. The scene is teeming with ambiance water vapor hovers above a waterfall’s splash pool, bird chatter from surrounding trees fills the air and the midday sun pierces through the lush jungle foliage. It’s one of those infamous ‘Battlefield Moments’, but the first we’ve ever experienced in a single-player environment. Quite frankly, Bad Company 2’s visuals appear to be the closest thing we’ve come to Crysis on a console yet.
But it’s also a moment soon soiled, as the sound of wildlife suddenly becomes replaced by the whir Russian helicopters. Yes, the Russkis have invaded America. Or the south of it at least, and it’s up to B Company to stop them in their tracks via a collection of tropical hostage rescue missions, daring vehicle escapes across sub-zero environments and an array of mishaps involving downed satellites and weapons of mass destruction.
But this all sounds so familiar, right? Maybe so, but actually sitting down to play Bad Company 2 feels vastly different to the similar scenarios found in Modern Warfare 2. It plays much more like a sandbox shooter for starters, both looking and feeling dynamic and organic, rather than being static universe filled with heavily scripted scenes. Each scenario – in which we’re promised plenty across the 10 hour campaign – can play out in entirely different ways, as proved by a seemingly simple scuffle involving a destructible wooden bridge and a pair of Russian guards.
The suggested idea of sniping them from a distance was soon ruled out upon arming ourselves with a rocket launcher from a local supply drop, while further alternate options lie within for the player to discover. The entire experience appears to be filled with opportunity for players to play the game exactly how they want to play it, with the outcome and destruction unleashed within each scene a direct result of their actions rather than developer’s.
Of course, one key element of this is the updated Frostbite Engine, which now allows for select buildings to be completely destroyed, but something else that sets Bad Company apart is its relative weightiness. It plays much like a hybrid of Killzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2, and feels as confident and as polished as either. It packs the variation found in the latter, too, with a variety of locations popping up from across the continent – fans of snow levels should pay seriously close attention in particular, as an early encounter set aback an Alaskan mountain range simply looks marvelous.
The new Squad Rush mode is more fast-paced, and pits two teams of four against each other.
But despite DICE’s increased focus on catering for a single-player audience, it hasn’t forgotten about its core fanbase either, and Bad Company 2 promises to be the most complete Battlefield experience yet, providing more multiplayer modes than any previous game in the series.
The new Squad modes – including Squad Rush which pits two teams of four up against each other – are faster and more immediate, while the introduction of a Hardcore alternative of every multiplayer mode adds a ‘One-Shot, One Kill’ scenario usually reserved for more tactical shooters like Rainbow Six and Flashpoint. And again, Frostbite comes in to play, providing maps that are constantly evolving thanks to the destruction of buildings and cover points, while simultaneously creating new passages for reaching objectives. Forget learning the maps and camping out in particular killzones, Bad Company 2’s maps are vast and utterly unpredictable. It’s insanely addictive, due in part to the constant unlockables, but more likely as a result of the insanely deep, yet incredibly balanced combat in display.
But to end we must return to our beginning. What is your favorite online multiplayer shooter on PS3? Come March, the answer may not be so simple as you may think.